An amusing snapshot of millennial restlessness, Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s droll debut is another addition to the recent crop of films where young women are always running on screen, a lot. Lamented by an ex-boyfriend as a “bulldozer”, Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier) saunters into every human interaction with the force of a whirlwind. Forever pacing back and forth, she goes off on idiosyncratic tangents as if oblivious to the bewildered other party.
Such personality quirks in large doses could soon turn tiresome and narcissistic if not for Demoustier’s effervescent charm. A graduate student who perpetually dodges the deadlines of her doctoral thesis, Anaïs is averse to commitment, to the challenge of buckling down and concluding things; she is constantly searching for the next emotional stimulant. After a disappointing tryst with Daniel (Denis Podalydès), a publisher twice her age, she suddenly carries a torch for his partner Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), a beautiful novelist whose writing uncannily resonates with Anaïs’s own neuroses. Just when Anaïs manages to seduce the older woman at a writing retreat, Daniel unexpectedly shows up. What ensues has a touch of the classic French adultery farce, yet the genuine connection between the two women also hints at a possible finish line to Anaïs’s ceaseless sprinting.
While the stakes here are a bit too low to elevate the film to a substantial work, there are many pleasures to be gleaned, including the beauty of the French countryside and the cerebral eroticism of literary exchanges. Its depiction of abortion is also refreshing: the act is neither melodramatic nor moralised, but simply a decision for a woman to make. Fizzy and bubbly, the film feels like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day, leaving us with a pleasant reminder of the thrills that summer can bring.
• Anaïs in Love is released on 19 August in cinemas.